Making Most of Our Shortcomings

The Sages’ saying, “Where the repentant stand, even the completely righteous cannot stand,”  has been used extensively in Jewish thought on the virtues of repentance and the advantage of the repentant over the righteous.  Rabbi Robbio opened a new avenue of understanding for this saying.  According to him, the advantage of the penitent person over the righteous one lies in having followed his desires and lusts in his sinful days, whereas the righteous person always acts in accordance with divine command.  The sinner, in casting off the burden of the commandments, is left with his own essence (his desires as well as his talents), whereas the righteous, who subordinates himself to G-d’s command, does not give free reign to his personality and therefore does not know it through and through.  Surprisingly, it is actually the sinner who is privileged to come to know his strengths and talents, and therefore he can approach closer to the Lord than the righteous person; hence, the penitent person has an advantage over the righteous one.

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